Young woman with big glasses studying the astrology elements and their meanings.

The Elements In Astrology Are Considered The Foundation Of Your Chart

They can tell you *a lot* about yourself.

by Valerie Mesa, Roya Backlund and Mackenzie Sylvester
Originally Published: 

Have you ever thought about the one thing that sets you apart from everyone else? Or the part of your personality makes you the most unique? Whether you're constantly recognized for your dazzling creativity, or perhaps criticized for being too stubborn, the influence of the elements in astrology plays a significant role in your cosmic identity. After all, the four elements are very much alive within each and every person. However, astrology elements have specific impacts on you, and those impacts are determined by the celestial activity that took place at the exact moment of your birth. So, what do the elements mean in astrology?

There are four elements: fire, earth, air, and water. To best understand each astrological element's meaning and importance, professional astrologer Taryn Bond says to think of them in relation to the physical world. “The elements are basically the four principles that in theory make up all of life,” she explains. “Everything that exists needs all four elements to survive.” The elements are the foundation to all things — including your birth chart. Each individual will have a different distribution of these four elements, which determines their temperament and essentially every part of their being.

“An easy way to think about it is basically [the elements are] parts of the psyche,” Bond tells Elite Daily. Water represents your emotional body, air is your logical mind, earth is your physical self, and fire is your inspiration. “All of us experience emotions, a mind, a body, and inspiration to act, but the way that people experience it and the distribution is always different, which is why people act so differently,” she explains. Elements are an interesting component to a birth chart because they’re not as tangible as some other parts of astrology. “It's very subjective,” says Bond. “It's all about people’s psychology and inner framework.”

Each of the astrology elements have a yin and yang energy. These are also known as negative and positive polarities, or as Bond calls them: receptive and active. “Yin is receptive, yang is active,” she says. “The yin signs are all the earth and water signs, and they’re receiving, processing, and responding to the environment,” she continues. She points to water and trees as an example: Water will always flow downstream, and trees are OK with the fact that they are growing and will one day die. “But then the active,” she says, “air and fire are agency action, they’re bringing something new, bringing an idea into the world — something to then be received.” For example, fire is going to roll right over the trees because it wants to *do* something, while the trees just stay put and let life happen.

But like everything in this ancient practice, staying balanced is essential to both your physical and spiritual well-being. Given that there are 12 zodiac signs, each astrological element rules three signs. The way the element expresses itself depends on the zodiac sign. Receptive earth and water tend to be more nurturing and sensual, while active fire and air prefer to communicate and move. When you think about aspects in astrology, all the yin signs will trine or sextile with each other, and same with the yang signs. “There's just a natural harmony,” Bond explains. “Water nurtures earth, but also with the positive polarity — the active signs — air stokes fire [and] makes it bigger, so it's cool because it literally works in nature as well as in the birth chart.”

On the flip side, as positive and negative polarity signs don’t have a ton in common, these signs will either not be making major aspects with each other, or they’ll form a square — which is thought of as a more difficult aspect. But again, balance is key. “There are instances where all of the elements interact,” professional astrologer Dalanah of the Moon Matters podcast tells Elite Daily. “You need fire and water to make steam,” she says, adding that new earth is made from water cooling down lava (fire element). “It's a great thing when I see someone who has a little bit of all of [the elements] because they're able to access so many different things with ease,” she continues.

When you’re looking at a birth chart, it’s not uncommon for a person to have dominance in one element and completely lack another. That essentially means they will instinctively and mechanically function through the lens of that certain part of the psyche. That doesn’t mean a water-dominant person will be overly emotional, for example, but more that this part of them is in control, according to Bond.

Someone with a dominance in one element might need to do things physically to balance themselves out. “Even if they're not thinking about astrology, they’re probably already doing this,” Bond notes. “Someone who's just fire might be prone to something with their skin [a hot flush, for example] or may be really sensitive to the sun,” she continues, “so they're going to need to do things to chill themselves out, [like] take a cold shower.”

Acknowledging the presence of the four astrology elements in someone's birth chart can immediately help you determine the chart holder's personality and general life approach. For instance, how many planets are in water? Are all four elements present? Does one element overpower another? If you’re trying to answer these questions, look no further than the four elements in astrology.

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Fire: Aries, Leo, & Sagittarius

Fire is a symbol of creation, energy, and vitality. According to Ancient Symbols, fire is considered to be the first element that was born when the universe was created. Fire rules Aries (the first sign in the zodiac), Leo, and Sagittarius, which helps explain their passionate nature and over-the-top enthusiasm. “Fire energy is very spontaneous, enthusiastic, inspired, and often very optimistic and joyful,” Bond says. Channeling this element can help you tap into your inner child and creativity and help you feel confident.

What Does It Mean To Lack Fire In Your Birth Chart?

What happens when you don’t have any Aries, Leo, or Sagittarius in your big six (sun, moon, rising, Mercury, Venus, and Mars)? Basically, a person without the fire element in their chart would have a harder time with these fire qualities. “This person may tend to struggle more with overanalyzing things, or maybe even being a little more on the sad side at times,” Bond explains. They may also find themselves stuck in the past, as fire is the first element and is about looking to the future. These people would be very practical and not ones to act on impulse.

When someone without fire interacts with a particularly fiery person, they may butt heads. The fire person may come across as reckless and “too much” for someone with no fire. “But if they take a step back, they may realize that it adds an excitement and motivation that's super fulfilling to them,” Bond shares. “A fire-dominant person would be like an inspirational coach to the non-fire person.” Balancing their energy through relationships with fire-heavy people can be really important for those who lack the element themselves.

What Does It Mean To Be Fire-Dominant In Your Birth Chart?

For those with mostly fire signs in their big six, it’s essentially the opposite. This type of birth chart most likely belongs to a person who is active, competitive, and highly passionate. “Fire people feel life like it's an action movie and they're the hero,” says Bond. “They're always the protagonist, but they're very inspired and uplifted and motivated and they seem to have this endless energy,” she adds. They feel like the main character and want to swoop in and save the day.

They can struggle with burnout and can be impatient, impulsive, or easily triggered into anger, according to Bond. They want to go, go, go and don’t want to be told what to do or stopped once they’ve made a decision. But fire-heavy people often are natural leaders. “They often don't even realize they're leading people because it's the first element — they're just going,” Bond notes. They’re always fearlessly striding forward because they aren’t inclined to think about consequences. This lack of fear and constant forward movement can sometimes shock others who don’t operate in this way.

Fire dominant people might also literally be drawn to fire and smoke. Have a friend who’s always volunteering to watch the fire on camping trips? They’re probably heavy in fire signs. “They're definitely the ones who like bonfires — that’s their go-to thing to do for fun,” Bond says.

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Earth: Taurus, Virgo, & Capricorn

This element is a symbol of abundance, stability, and solidity. Earth rules Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn, which explains the innate persistence and practicality that is central to these zodiac signs. Channeling this element can help you find stability and consistency in your routine.

What Does It Mean To Lack Earth In Your Birth Chart?

As earth naturally doesn’t take things too personally, someone without this element might be a little more sensitive. Without the presence of these rooting placements in the birth chart, a person can tend toward flightiness and would benefit greatly from having earth-dominant people in their lives. “Even though the person without earth might find earth people to be callous, boring, or cold at first, they offer this grounding that they're craving,” Bond says.

Earth signs can also be great reminders for non-earth people to slow down as they tend to spin off in their own universe and keep themselves going non-stop. “An earth sign is like Father Time,” as Bond puts it. They have a very keen sense of time and season — they’re playing the long game, where people who lack this element have a sense of urgency. They could be the ones who are always running late, depending on the rest of their chart.

Even though they’ll be super creative and inspired, a non-earth person might be in a constant state of emergency if they don’t have grounding rituals (or trusty earth sign besties). “They need some perspective and also reassurance, sometimes from someone who's not in the chaos that they can experience at times,” Bond explains.

What Does It Mean To Be Earth-Dominant In Your Birth Chart?

A birth chart with prominent earth most likely belongs to a person who is pragmatic, dependable, and realistic. On the dark side, someone with earth in their chart can be inflexible and ruthlessly stubborn. While fire people see life as an action movie, earth people see it like it’s a maze they’re working through, according to Bond.

“A big focus for earth-dominant people is strategy and strategy gained over time from experience,” Bond explains. As time-oriented people, they always have a sense that they’re in this for the long haul. “They also are guided by this feeling that wherever the maze of life is leading them is important,” she continues. They know if they fall down and scrape their knees, they’re going to get back up and it’s OK because it will be worth it at some point.

“They're practical, grounded people, solid in their ideas and perspectives,” says Bond. “Good luck changing their mind.” Sometimes earth-dominant people can come off uninterested to others because they’re so honest. If they don’t care to talk to someone, they’re not going to “because they're focused on whatever they're doing,” Bond shares. These are very hardworking people who are excellent at self-motivating — even when it comes to things they don’t want to do, which can bring them great success.

People with mostly earth signs in their big six can struggle with feeling lethargic, weighed down, or burdened by things at times, according to Bond. “If you think about the heaviness of earth, it's literally the most difficult element to move physically,” she explains. However, little bumps in the road don’t really get to them the way they might other people because they have goals to reach.

The physical translation of earth-dominant people could look like someone with a house full of plants or a big-time nature lover. They can be very skilled gardeners as well, as they have this deep connection to the earth and its life cycles. “Just taking a walk in nature can be so clarifying and uplifting for these people,” Bond explains. “It's almost like an instant reset for them because it basically gets them back in sync with themselves.” Earth people live in tune with the ebb and flow of life and resemble a tree in that they age gracefully and peacefully.

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Air: Gemini, Libra, & Aquarius

Air is a symbol of communication, intelligence, and versatility. This sign is all about the mind and logic. Air rules Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius, so that explains their charming social skills and quick wit. Channeling this element can promote mental clarity and enhance your communication style.

What Does It Mean To Lack Air In Your Birth Chart?

Say a person’s big six consists of fire, water, and earth signs — but no air. Of course, everything depends on the entirety of the chart, but this lack of air can be pretty telling. These people may not rely on their logical mind rather than their feelings to make decisions.

“They can look very confusing to people from the outside,” Bond says. They have this deep and complex inner world, but they may struggle to express all these rich internal experiences outwardly. “They might not have a way to explain why they're acting a certain way or [why they] need to do a certain thing,” notes Bond. “This can actually create a sense of loneliness or a perceived gap for these people between their inner world and the external world — because words are air.”

Air-dominant people represent what non-air people lack, so there can be a bit of a disconnect between them. “It could go one of two ways,” Bond explains. If the non-air person is mostly on the yin side with more water and earth placements, they’d likely feel quickly drained by air-heavy people, according to Bond. “But at the same time, it'll be nice because the air people can encourage them to talk and start a conversation,” she continues.

If they’re more of a fire person (yang), things might flow a little more seamlessly between them and an air person. The fire person can feel invigorated and gently guided out of their comfort zone by the air person. “Air people can help the people with no air learn how to communicate and express themselves,” Bond says.

What Does It Mean To Be Air-Dominant In Your Birth Chart?

A birth chart with prominent air most likely belongs to a person who prefers thinking logically rather than emotionally. At the same time, they can be incredibly indecisive and fickle. These people look at life like it’s a puzzle. “They're very intellectual, curious, stimulating, and provoking,” offers Bond. Because their wheels are constantly turning, they may be someone with anxiety or could struggle with overthinking or insomnia, “anything about being too much in your head,” says Bond.

People with an air dominance are natural wordsmiths. “They have this ability to not just say something in a really strategic way, [but] they've also thought three steps ahead and planned out what you're going to say and where the conversation's going to go next,” Bond explains. They have a strong way of speaking and can get excited when they communicate.

Bond notes that air-heavy people can also be shy at first. But if you ask them the right questions, getting them to stop talking becomes the challenge. “This well of information, facts, and opinions will spill out to you because they've always got so much on their mind,” Bond says. Their brains never rest — they’re always thinking and processing.

People with lots of air in their chart might be the ones who are constantly talking to themselves. They might not even notice their thoughts are audible as they speed whisper what they think is staying inside their head. “Sometimes they're so in their head that they're in their own little world,” Bond says. “Air moves so quickly, so it can be like lightning speed in their brain ... jumping from one thing to the next.”

It’s very common for air-heavy individuals to dream about becoming a pilot, and they also often have a special connection with electricity. “Either literally [they’ll be] doing something with electricity or working in some very technical STEM field ... there's something with things that travel super quickly,” Bond explains.

Water: Cancer, Scorpio, & Pisces

Water is a symbol of emotion, dreams, healing, intuition, and the universal realm. According to Ancient Symbols, it also represents death and rebirth. Water rules Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces, which can explain the highly intuitive nature and mysterious demeanor of these signs. Channeling this element can help you tap into your emotions and bring you closer to the spirit world.

What Does It Mean To Lack Water In Your Birth Chart?

Without water in someone’s big six, they might be more on the rational and analytical side rather than emotional and intuitive. While they can be sympathetic, they sometimes struggle more with empathy. “They also might feel like it's hard for them to feel deeply emotionally bonded, or like they don't want to be vulnerable with people,” Bond offers. As water is the last element, these people aren’t ones to be weighed down by the past. “They're already 10 steps ahead doing stuff, but at the same time, they could lack that sense of emotional connection to people,” Bond notes.

For people without water in their birth chart, they might be confused by water people, “especially because these people are used to understanding everything,” says Bond. “They might look at the water person and be like, ‘What is that?’ because water is confusing,” she adds. But deep down, these people do crave the warmth and nurturing that water offers. Being in the right water relationship can be really beneficial in helping a non-water person feel emotionally safe and nurtured. “If the person without water can be patient and open-minded, then the water person can really help them connect with a lot of deep, hidden parts of themselves,” Bond expands.

What Does It Mean To Be Water-Dominant In Your Birth Chart?

A birth chart with prominent water most likely belongs to a person who is naturally perceptive of their surroundings. These signs can also be moody and hypersensitive. “Water-dominant people see life like it’s an old film reel,” Bond says. Water is all about the past, as the zodiac journey ends with water. These people are looking back on what they’ve experienced and what they’ve learned. “There’s a vibe to everything, everything is about how it felt, [and] there’s an energy to every era,” says Bond.

Water-dominant people do have a peacefulness to them, but also a perpetual nostalgia. “There’s this reverence for days of the past for whatever it was that has meant the most to them,” Bond explains. They get very deeply emotionally attached to the feelings they got from things, not necessarily the thing itself. There’s a personal and emotional lens that filters the reality of a water-heavy individual. Their experience of life is very subjective, as they live in their “inner world of visions, dreams, and memories,” Bond says.

Water people can also be pretty quiet and sensitive and are often homebodies. They can come across as very mysterious as well. “They seem like they are connected to the secrets of the universe,” says Bond. “And in many ways they are — they do kind of live in another world.” If you think of the ocean, most of it is a mystery and in many ways an entirely different universe. Bond likens fixed water sign Scorpio to an iceberg. “You only see the very tip of it ... there's so much more hidden beneath the surface.”

If you think of literal water, it always takes the shape of its container. “These people are super shaped by their childhood and early years of life more than the other elements, because that's the container that their psyche and their very sensitive inner depths developed in,” Bond explains. To know a water-dominant person, you’d have to look at their past, their childhood, home life, and their parents, because that’s “the framework that still probably exists for them,” according to Bond.

Physically, water people display their element very obviously. These are the people you can always catch swimming or being by the water. “A lot of water dominant kids will be the ones that [are] not just going to swim, they're going to be a mermaid and have this whole world that they'll tell you about,” Bond offers. “Water dominant people — especially when they're young — always have such a beautiful imagination.”

Naturally, you want to analyze the whole birth chart, not just the foundation. But there’s so much you can learn by looking at the elements, and it makes a great starting point for discovering more about yourself and how you think.


Taryn Bond, professional tropical astrologer practicing synthesis of evolutionary, modern, traditional, and intuitive techniques rooted in a humanistic, soul-based astrological approach

Dalanah, professional astrologer and host of Moon Matters astrology podcast

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